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Consumer Rights Act – will you exercise your new rights?

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There’s less than a week to go until the biggest shake-up of consumer rights law in a generation. But how much will you benefit from the new Consumer Rights Act?

Are you up to speed with your new rights? The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 becomes law on Thursday 1 October 2015 and brings with it a raft of new rights for consumers.

This is a consolidating Act. Which, for those not in the know, means it brings together and replaces three big pieces of consumer legislation:

  • Sale of Goods Act 1979
  • Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999
  • Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

So what exactly will this mean to the average punter? Let’s take a look at some of the new rights you can look forward to…

30 days to reject

The new Act gives some much-needed clarity on how long you have to return a faulty product hassle free for a full refund. The good news for shoppers is that you’ll have 30 days to make the return for a full refund.

Is that long enough?

Well, it’s an improvement on the soon-to-be-replaced Sale of Goods Act, which offers no specific timeframe – only a ‘reasonable time’, which depends on the circumstances but in practice is usually around three to four weeks.

You can still return a faulty product after the initial 30 days, but the retailer has an opportunity to repair or replace it before you can demand a refund.

Your new digital rights

The new legislation also sets out – for the very first time – bespoke rights for when you purchase digital content. It covers pretty much any digital content you pay for and download or stream – including apps, music, movies, games or eBooks.

There isn’t a 30-day grace period for refunds as with physical products. Instead, if there’s something wrong with your new digital content you’ll have the right to a repair or replacement in the first instance.

And if that repair or replacement doesn’t fix the problem, you can ask for a price reduction which can be up to 100% of the cost.

The retailer (not the developer) will be responsible for compensating you. So if the app you downloaded on Google’s Play Store is broken, your rights for a repair or replacement will lie with Google. The retailer will also be liable if any device or other digital content you own is damaged as a result of the dodgy digital content you’ve downloaded.

It’s not yet clear how this will work in practice, but it could mean that you will be protected by the Consumer Rights Act if an update to a digital device – like an iOS update on iPhone – causes your device to cease to function.

No more unfair contracts?

The Consumer Rights Act also makes make it easier for consumers tochallenge hidden fees and charges. Now the key terms of a contract, including price, may be assessed for fairness unless they are both prominent and transparent. This is an improvement because previously such terms were exempt from a fairness test if they were written in plain language. If a term is unfair then a company won’t be able to enforce it.

There’s a lot more to the new Consumer Rights Act, which you can read all about here. Which of the new rights are you most looking forward to exercising? Do you think the new Act goes far enough or would you like to see other rights and protection included?

Comments
Louise O says:
7 February 2017

Does this cover property? We bought a home in September 2016. The developer mislead us and actually deceived us by saying the Local College owns the land our home is built on and therefore the Freehold was not available. We have found out 4 months later the developer owned the land well before we even enquired and intend to sell it before we have been here for 2 years. We are not the only home owners on site they mislead.

They also advertised the houses with double parking (false – they gave us 1 parking space and the other is a visitors space we do not own outside our house), a larger house (1,041 sq. ft. advertised Versus actual 799 sq. ft) and promised lots of extras if we reserved which they then withdrew at the point of reservation.

Who are we best to contact? Trading Standards won’t deal with it even though they police the Consumer Protection for Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. It seems the developer have acted illegally but nobody seems to be interested. Can this Act help us?

Louise – Did you use a solicitor or conveyancing executive to deal with your acquisition of the property? If so I would suggest that would be a good place to start.

If the property was sold to you leasehold that should have been made very clear to you both by the developer and by your conveyancer since if that is so you will have to pay a ground rent every year.

The discrepancy over the floor area and parking provision should have been clarified for you by the site representative when you inspected the house before paying your deposit. Were these details included in a brochure, or general illustrations, or a site plan that applied to a number of properties of the same type? If the property incorporates a garage that counts as one parking space. A visitor space outside your boundary cannot count as one of the property’s parking spaces as you have no control over its use. Did the developer give a reason why the ‘extras’ were withdrawn – were they specified contents or just available options that they might offer at their discretion to induce a sale?

I certainly think you would be well advised to take professional advice as this is quite complex. Have Trading Standards given a reason why they won’t take your problem on? My personal opinion is that they would probably not give you a satisfactory conclusion anyway.

Perhaps we should start a new Convo – features in cars we want restored. Beginning with – a full size spare wheel – key entry to both front doors – all bulbs easily changed by the driver.

I agree. All we would need to do is recycle the best of the comments from existing Convos. 🙂 Please could we include a whinge about the cost of sat nav updates. At least we have moved forward here and some come with ‘free’ map updates.

John says:
8 February 2017

malcolm r – new convo? – I suggest only if there is confidence that it would do any good – does anyone have any evidence that all this conversation does any good? – has anything ever come of it? Or is is it just a venue where people have a benefit-less ‘whinge’?

Yesterday, I tried to help ‘manage consumers’ expectations’ by highlighting serious consumer issues in respect of failings in ‘the system’ (SoGA, CRA, s75 CCA, MRA 1967, FOS, SCC) which jeopardise consumers getting justice – it developed instead into debate about the example I used to illustrate my point of how ‘the system’ failed to deliver me with justice, even though I had taken legal advice at every step and had ‘played it by the book’ (the keyless car lock-out phenomenon & misrepresentation) – I don’t recollect much discussion about these high level issues. If it was a minor amount of money at stake, I could put ‘the system’ issues aside, but £26,000 is not a small amount of money to be let down on, by ‘the system’.

Therefore I am keen to make sure other consumers are not similarly led astray by having their expectations lifted too high by all the media promoted hype about how easy and how frequently successful it is to pursue one’s consumer rights. For me, it has proven very costly:- the salesman lied to me at the point of sale so my car is not the car I wanted/expected (and lied again in making his defence, and again the ombudsman ignored those proven lies); my once brand new misrepresented car has been damaged twice (once in the care of the dealership) , the dealership sabotaged the door mirrors, wanted £250 to replace MY battery which THEY had neglected, and resorted to intimidation and threats; I’ve had to pay to have it professionally recovered from the dealership, I’ve had no use of it throughout 4 years of dispute and have had to run another car throughout those 4 years. I look like having to ‘get rid of it’, but it’s now lost circa £16,000 in value and I’ll yet have to fork out even more to repair the door mirrors, to repair the defunct central locking system and to replace the badly rusted brake discs before anyone will want to to buy it off me – at less than 8,000 miles of use, someone will get a bargain and I’ll suffer a huge loss.

But, returning to the point of my opening paragraph – does anyone in Which? monitor these convos and do anything about the issues raised? – if not, where is the value in having these convos?

I have asked the same question John. Many of these Convos seem to be just talking shops. many raise constructive suggestions, points of law, request relevant information, but no action results.

My tack is, when I feel strongly about something, have what I feel is useful information or proposals, have an important question I’d like answered, I contact an organisation directly that can address it. That may be Which?, Ofgem, M&S, BSI, FSA for example and it usually produces an informative and constructive response. I usually report back.

However I would have hoped Which? would take Convo points made on board and present these on our behalf – as they say, they want to make us as powerful as the organisations we deal with.

Like malcolm I am a creature of action , while its fine to discuss, debate, solve, come to a combined conclusion at the end of the day if the opposing army lobs a missile at you you either get wiped out or take—action.

I have generally been successful in in claims over faulty goods although it has sometimes involved considerable effort. Unfortunately I have had some very unhelpful correspondence with some companies and trade bodies. I don’t generally post responses I have received unless I know that they are standard communications like the contents of the letters about the VW emissions problem. Indeed, some of the correspondence makes it clear that it is for use only by the recipient.

There can be a big difference between receiving an encouraging response and action being taken.

John – Was it you that posted about your car problems a couple of years ago? If not, there is a similar case in one of the Conversations.

I hope John (the nuclear engineer ) hasn’t put you off my suggestion of scanning your engine code yourself and resetting it on Land Rover , you don’t even need to be a software engineer you only have to go to You Tube and its all laid out for you in a film +pictures no software engineer level in digital programming only normal intelligence.

Luisa says:
10 February 2017

Bought a wedding ring for my future husband, they measured his finger in the shop and ordered it. When it arrived my mother went to collect it but it is far too big. I rang the shop and they said they can’t alter it as its titanium and refuse to exchange or give a refund. I am heartbroken as I can’t afford another!

I suggest that you speak to Citizens Advice, Luisa. The shop has sold you a ring that is clearly not fit for purpose since they took the measurement rather than used a size provided by you. You should receive a full refund and there should be no unreasonable delay. Best of luck.

Luisa I take you bought it more as an “everlasting” symbol of your love for him rather than a monetary choice as it will certainly outlast any equivalent gold ring . It is “precious ” in the defense industry . Sorry to say unlike gold which I watched being resized titanium is a different proposition VERY hard to weld PROPERLY when cut requiring a very pure flame and being heated causes the surface to lose its properties , even the powder when cut is used in fireworks . Can I ask how much you paid for it as that will give me some idea whether you paid for the style rather than the metal .Titanium is costed in pounds(weight ) The Argon gas used to work on it must be 100 % pure , I am not saying its impossible to do only it might cost you more than the price you paid for it. I have additional info from a US aerospace Engineer who worked for NASA . $3.50/Kg is a spot price in the US.

Luisa – As Wavechange has said, you are entitled in law to reject the ring within thirty days of purchase and have a full refund because the ring is unfit for purpose, and especially so since you made it clear that it had to fit your fiance’s finger which the shop measured. Within this timescale the shop cannot press you to have the ring re-sized but you can ask for a replacement if you prefer, although the retailer does have the right to just give you your money back.

If it is more than thirty days since your mother collected the ring you have to give the retailer one opportunity to repair or replace the ring. The retailer can normally choose whichever would be cheapest or easier for it to do. In view of what Duncan has said about the difficulty of re-sizing a titanium ring I would expect a replacement to be offered. The retailer could also give you a full refund at this stage if it wishes to.

Your consumer rights are made clear in a Which? guide which you can read here:
http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act

Maria McInerney says:
15 February 2017

I purchased a block of 10 driving lessons from GR8T driving school. the terms and conditions did not state they could only be used one per week. The person on the phone made my daughter cry when she said she wanted to take her test at watford and said she should book her third test at teh same time as she would not pass. Now he states she can only complete one lesson per week an when i asked for a refund to due to his attitude he hung the phone up after saying no refunds.
Do I have any rights to a refund?

Maria-GR8T state they are the ones who decides when a pupil is ready for a test,and they decide when your should take your theoretical and practical test. They can also refuse the use of the car if they think you are not ready for the test.On the other hand they must be respectful towards you and behave in a professional manner , obviously if they made your daughter cry they broke their own rules . while block prices are quoted and three options provided in their website T+C,s it does not seem any other contractual liability in the number of lessons/week/month other than –quote- call us and we can “talk it through”– talk it through does not imply a contract in the eyes of the Law.

peter says:
15 February 2017

I got a car from trade centre wales I part x my car for a kia optima the sales person told me I would get around 37 -40 mpg I travelled 8-9 miles and the on board petrol gage said that I had done 31miles the radio wont work when the back windscreen heater is on the passenger seat wont go up or down I took it back to tcw and they said it wasn’t a fault of theirs so I got to take it back to kia I don’t know what to do I’m not happy I feel they took my money and just put the blame on kia I have told them about consumer rights but they just make an excuse that it don’t stop me driving it so they cant do anything
anybody help plz

Peter I started off checking up on TCW and got a shock at my first website , poster after poster- ONE star out of 5 -very poor-appalling-shocking-heartbroken was typical along with quote- worst repairer in the business it gets even worse ! This company seems to buy ex.fleet cars and general second hand cars and “repair them ” for sale ,seriously regardless of what you are told here posters who put their cars in for repair are having an uphill struggle to get any compensation from them I wish you luck as you will need it.

ruby says:
24 April 2017

please educate me on the matter of rights

Ruby – If you go back to the Introduction and click on the sections of text shown in red you will be taken to relevant information and advice on consumer rights. You can also find out more from clicking on the red boxes at the bottom of the article.

Paul says:
28 June 2017

Purchased a Hotpoint cooker from AO.com May 2015… this has been faulty since as the flame blows out without warning …although only noticed this was a repetitive fault afer 6mths.

Now struggling to get AO or Hotpoint to take responsibility to replace/refund the product despite quoting our rights from the Act 2015.

Can you advise what we can do next?

I could do with some advice about consumer rights.

In December 2016 I bought a Humax Freesat box. It’s still available and on the website it says: “Up to two years free warranty when registered with Humax, giving you confidence in the quality of build and technology, with no repair costs should your product go faulty in the first two years of use.”

I regard this as a manufacturer’s guarantee because there was no extra payment for this cover and the second year’s cover is not a special offer.

I phoned the retailer – Currys PC World – and they wanted me to contact Humax because the product was about 13 months old. After some discussion it was agreed that I could return the product to the shop. Once again I was directed to contact Humax. I persisted and the assistant called Humax but being a Sunday afternoon, there was no reply. I said that I was not in a hurry and could leave the faulty item, but that was not acceptable. The store manager was called and for a third time I was directed to take the matter up with Humax. Eventually I was allowed to leave the item and someone would run through some diagnostics with Humax to confirm the fault. I apologised to the young assistant for being a difficult customer and I await developments.

What I remain unsure of is whether I am right in assuming that the simple act of registering a product to qualify for extra free cover does constitute a manufacturer’s guarantee. Any thoughts?

There does seem to be an implied contract in the wording “Up to two years free warranty when registered with Humax, giving you confidence in the quality of build and technology, with no repair costs should your product go faulty in the first two years of use.” The manufacturer has made an offer and the purchaser has formally accepted it by registering their interest.

My view also is that if Currys PC World don’t understand the manufacturer’s undertakings to purchasers of their products, or are disobliging about implementing them, then they should not be selling the products.

Thanks John. It does seem clear but the person I spoke to on the phone and the two in the store argued otherwise, and somewhat undermined my self-confidence.

I do look for products with longer guarantees and encourage others to do the same. In my experience, shops are usually very obliging when products are under guarantee, but I have had little experience with of making a claim after the first year, other than when my only protection is the Consumer Rights Act.

I am reluctant to buy from Currys because of problems with their customer service in the past. It concerns me that the leaflet accompanying purchases states: “Most of our products have at least a one year guarantee, and if your product develops a fault during this time, we can help you get a resolution. Sometimes we’ll refer you to the manufacturer or a repair agent instead. That’s because they’re best placed to help you with your query.” I see it as the responsibility of the retailer to sort out problems and pay carriage costs.

If I have to, I will subscribe to the Which? Legal service, but I do like to be self-sufficient if I can.

@ldeitz Hi Lauren – I have posted quotations from the Currys leaflet on several occasions but am still hoping that Which? would let us know whether it is legal to delegate their responsibility to the manufacturer or repair agent.

Wavechange-Basically a Contract of Sale has taken place between the seller and buyer and in English contract law the seller is your first port of call not the manufacturer no matter what the seller says as that contract has a higher legal standing than referring a buyer to a manufacturer . Unless the seller is a contracted AGENT of the manufacturer then its the sellers first legal responsibility. This has already been through High Courts .

More to the point, it is enshrined in the Consumer Rights Act which over-rides previous court rulings and indisputably establishes the legal responsibility of the seller.

Thanks both. Having survived the first three rounds of polite discussion with staff at Currys I was in need of a confidence boost. The key issue seems to be that I have registered the product with Humax to gain cover for an extra year and Currys reckon they have no responsibility during this period.

Then in all fairness Currys should get that in writing from the manufacturers and present it to you. Personally, I think they are wrong [and they have a track record on customer rights and warranties].

Fifteen or more years ago, Currys refused to let me leave my Miele vacuum cleaner at their store, or even record the faults. I had purchased it only a few months earlier. Miele did send out two parts without asking to see the machine or to have the faulty ones returned.

I would really like to use shops like Currys where it is possible to inspect goods before purchase.

Malcolm – I gave my Humax registration number to Currys when I called them and provided Currys with a copy of the email with the registration reference number when I returned the faulty product to their store. That was last Sunday and I will call on Friday if I don’t hear from them beforehand.

It’s interesting that their Service Docket is marked ‘Customer to Pay’. The customer has no intention of doing so.

Hi @wavechange, sorry for not getting back to you sooner. It’s very clear that your contract is with Currys as the retailer, so you did the right thing going to them. You should be covered for two years for an electrical item under EU rules. Have you tried using our free faulty goods tool? It generates a free legal letter to give to Curry’s https://www.which.co.uk/tools/faulty-goods-complaint-tool/

Hi @ldeitz – No problem – I did start to use the faulty goods tool, but then decided I would give Currys a ring to find out if they would be any more helpful than they were last time I had a problem, which was years ago. Next time I have a problem I will give it a go.

We have discussed the two year EU guarantee several times on Convo and believe that it is the equivalent of the UK Consumer Rights Act, but for a shorter period. Sometimes I wish I had studied law…

@ldeitz, Lauren, I think there is often confusion about the EU 2 year guarantee. As far as I am aware, this is a “legal” protection for the consumer, not a requirement for a 2 year commercial guarantee. It is the period allowed for a customer to make a legal claim against the retailer for replacement, repair or refund (may be partial). This is the equivalent of our Consumer Rights Act except that we give 6 years of such protection (5 in Scotland). Is that not the case?

In wavechange’s case the 1 year commercial guarantee was extended to 2 years by Humax if he registered the product with them. Otherwise in that second year he would have only had CRA’s legal protection to use to make a claim against Currys, and we know what a battle that might be. Furthermore some retailers may use the statement on the EU 2 year guarantee to try to evade their responsibilities under the UK’s 6/5 year legal obligation – for all products, not just electrical of course.

If a manufacturer provides an extended warranty for registering the appliance with them, I must admit my first attempt at resolving a problem would be by contacting them, after the main guarantee had expired. Particularly if I were dealing with someone like Currys. If they directed me to the retailer then I’d know where I stood.

I have sometimes turned to manufacturers when retailers have been unhelpful, especially when the manufacturer is happy to send a replacement part.

If the retailer is prepared to arrange collection of faulty goods, they can arrange for them to be returned to the manufacturer, but this means waiting at home for a collection. I would rather that the customer could simply return faulty products to their local shop and be notified when the repaired item is ready for collection.

I agree, but while manufacturers can be very helpful at times, I feel one must, as a matter of principle, start with the retailer and not let the staff get the impression that the customer has to take all product claims to the manufacturer themselves. If the manufacturer is not UK-based or only has an import agency here it is vital that there is a well-established and undisputed route through the retailer to getting a repair or replacement where eligible under the Consumer Rights Act.

As we have said many times before it would be a good idea to have a government-authorised notice displayed at the pay points in every store setting out the customer’s rights [although primarily for the education of the staff!]. A poster on H&S rights and obligations has been a requirement of the Health & Safety at Work Act or its predecessors for as long as I can remember.

It is the principle that I’m exploring. I’m not sure how many times our regulars here have pointed out that it’s the retailer’s responsibility for dealing with problems.

My original suggestion to contact Humax first was to see what they say about exercising the terms of ther warranty. Or, of course, reading the warranty!

Looking at Humax’s website it says:
Humax will provide the Humax Limited Warranty for a period of 24 months when you register for warranty in the Warranty Registration section of this website(//uk.humaxdigital.com/support/). This coverage operates alongside and in addition to your statutory rights under UK consumer law. The warranty periods set forth above apply from the first date of purchase of the product. Keep the Certificate together with the original invoice or receipt in a safe place and show them to the retailer or place of purchase whenever a warranty repair is necessary.“!

So it says take your certificate to the retailer.

This should be sufficient to show Currys what they need to do.

So they are essentially agreeing with the Law of Contract malcolm

My approach to getting a problem sorted is a polite pragmatic one – what is likely to work best. Knowing Currys reported history of a lack of cooperation, I’d arm myself with the facts before approaching them. For most other retailers I would approach them first.

If the problem was simply a product failure where the claim was being made under the Consumer Rights Act then the purchaser’s contract is with the retailer and that is where they should pursue their claim. CRA over-rides the terms of any warranty (unless those terms are superior). However here the claim was being made through a manufacturers warranty. So I’d just check what that warranty says so I approach the problem knowing my rights – with the right bit of paper to demonstrate that.

I did go prepared – see my post above. Since there was a manufacturer’s guarantee, I saw no point in making a claim under the Consumer Rights Act because it’s more likely that I would have to provide evidence that the fault existed at the time of purchase (goods more than six months old) or receive a partial refund, accounting for the use that the goods have had.

Hello. I live in Croatia and I have sent my DSLR camera in UK for modification (On sensor filter replacement – IR conversion). This is not governed by warranty and I will have to pay for this service. The company received my camera on 5th of February and they sent me service acknowledgement. 35 working days has passed and my camera is not yet finished. I have contacted them twice and each time I was told ”next week”. What is reasonable amount of time to complete the service and am I entitled to cost reduction or something? Please give me advice.

Its down to your Terms+Conditions of the contract you have with the company Sacred , it would help if you named the company so that I could look up their Terms + Conditions of service .What excuse have they said for delaying the repair , no spares ? hard to get hold of parts ? etc.

The company name is Advanced Camera Services. This is their reply to my first e-mail: ”We are currently waiting for the filters for this model and have been told they will be with us early next week. We are therefore hoping to have your camera completed by the end of next week.” This was 22nd of February, a month ago. I know there was snowing in Watton where the company is based so they were closed for a few days, but still…

They say the Pro service is usually 3 days with the normal one 7 days but qualify it -depending on spares . It must be a expensive camera Sacred their charges arent cheap. They say-we pride ourselves on a quick turnaround time with 6 months guarantee but not in your case obviously Sacred . So they are actually disclaiming the fast turnaround by putting -depending on spares which is a bit open-ended. My next question is whats the model /make of the camera so I can check on who makes it and who holds the spares.

Camera model is Nikon D7000, but the service of Infrared conversion is not something standard, even if certain companies such as Advanced Camera Services specialize in it. The process includes removal of the OEM IR block filter and replacing it with the one that blocks visible light below certain wavelength. If I understand correctly such filters are Hoya or Schott glass and are not considered as spare parts. But as you said, they are disclaiming the fast turnaround by putting ”depending on spares”. As the company who specializes in such camera modification they should have ”spares” more readily available. Competitor companies from US indeed have up to 7 working days turnaround time. But I have opted for UK to avoid customs charges.

If they have ordered it from Hoya indirectly it has a base in Berkshire so after this length of time they are probably importing it from Japan . If so that could take a while . While Schott is German in 2011 it moved its factory to China , again a long wait if parts are not available in the UK which is Stafford but it is a distribution business as well as the UK Hoya base . Your question to ACS is –are the filters not available in the UK branches of those companies ? .

I don’t know what to say anymore. Last time I ordered something from Japan it took three days to get to my doorstep. And if our e-mail correspondence is any indication, they received those filters month ago. 35 working days is a lot of time no matter where those filters come from. Thank you very much for your time. I should probably wait patiently for a few more days and hope this to be an isolated case. But I’m somewhat disappointed with this.

If they received the filters a month ago then its down to them having a problem fitting them , it cant be pressure of work or they have damaged your camera , the options arent great . You have said their excuse is they are waiting for the filters , unlike private buyers companies buying spares from abroad order in bulk all the spares they need for other cameras so as to save on postage . I wouldn’t wait much longer and demand a detailed explanation from them, ask to speak to one of the owners .

I recommend contacting the company and politely but firmly asking for the work to be completed as soon as possible.

I once ordered some spare parts directly from a manufacturer in Japan.

The cost of both the parts and the shipping were extremely reasonable and they only took a few days to arrive. Excellent customer service.